People Data – The missing piece to project management

According to Gallup, only 2.5% of companies successfully complete 100% of their projects. A staggering statistic, and no matter how you define project success, the real question is - why are so many projects failing to deliver their expected outcomes?

Bentzy Goldman
Bentzy Goldman

In a recent white paper, we argued that one of the key reasons behind the ‘project problem’ - is too much focus on ‘process’ and not enough focus on ‘people’. The humans who actually deliver projects.

Projects are about people

When organizations look back to understand why certain projects failed or under-delivered, they often return back to the project plan, the scope, and the (unfortunately common) metrics used to measure success like budget and timelines. But analyzing these progress and operational metrics often fail to yield the answers so desperately needed. On the occasions we do get answers, they arrive too late to make any meaningful difference. Project managers in general are trained heavily on process, methodologies and project ‘management’, but not much on people ‘empowerment’ and leadership. This seems odd seeing as people deliver projects, not methodologies. You can have the best methodology designed for your project but if your team is misaligned, lacks clarity and is constantly stressed - your project hasn’t got a high likelihood of succeeding.

So while these process-related factors are important to implement, they can never give us the full picture on project health because they ignore one key piece of the puzzle: the people responsible for making the project healthy.

“90% of project manager training is focused on process and structure, however 70% of the issues they face are about people”
– Cranfield University

Time for a new approach

To ensure consistent project success, we need a new approach to managing projects – one that seeks to understand and empower the people responsible for executing the plan and delivering our desired outcomes. By focusing on people, listening to them and empowering them to perform at their best, project success will naturally follow.

Companies are quick to turn to quantitative data to predict the likelihood of project success. But data around tasks, timelines, and costs don’t fully provide the insights you need to understand or predict project performance. We consider such data good for measuring project progress but not categorically project performance.

What’s missing is another layer of data – one that until now has either been absent altogether or arrived too late to make a difference. We’re talking, of course, about ‘people data’.

The people in project management

People data is critical to project success

Although there It’s important to outline what ‘people data’ is NOT before suspicion spawns. It is not performance review data and it is not spyware data, it simply means data derived from people and in our case this is specifically micro-feedback that the people on a project provide throughout its lifecycle. The project lead, the project team and the project stakeholders/clients. We are heavily opposed to employee spyware tools and monitoring individual activity to a meta level. We don’t do individual feedback or individual reviews, only team feedback, project reviews and of course it’s all anonymous.

Although there are many data points that provide metrics for project health, there are very few that provide insights into team health. Additionally a lot of the data within our project management tools and spreadsheets have many biases and assumptions that come with it, as such it is critical to incorporate another source of data, one which is more holistic and represents more perspectives and variables. Generally speaking, the fewer the sources that performance data arrives from, the less accurate it is.

Traditionally, project leads have not always been responsible for monitoring and empowering team performance and engagement, but the research dictates that those who do, see a significant increase in both project performance and team retention. In our new world of work, the fast pace of change, and a war for talent, it is impossible to ignore the people who drive our organizations.

Our approach to this process is less about focusing on the reporting of performance, but rather focusing on the improving of performance. This is where people data comes in.

Without people data, it is very difficult for a project lead to pinpoint exactly where their team needs attention and what may be going wrong, affecting the probability of project success.

In other words, without accurate, timely, and accessible people data, it is very difficult to make the right project decisions. Project leads are forced into a reactive mindset rather than a proactive one. Inevitably projects can outright fail, or simply fail to meet their objectives. This is not the fault of project leads – they simply haven’t been equipped with the information and tools they’ve needed to drive successful projects. Until now...

What would a solution look like?

In order to have any impact, the process of collecting and analyzing people data needs to be:

  • Seamless and automated: so it can be applied to any project team with minimal effort and overhead.

  • Continuous and contextual: constantly producing insights that are meaningful to that stage of the project.

  • Insightful and actionable: measuring metrics that matter and which can be actioned in the moment.

To do this manually would take an immense amount of time and effort, something project leads have very little left of. Rather, what’s needed is a dedicated system that collects and analyzes feedback data automatically throughout a project and delivers them in an intuitive manner for project leaders to act on in real-time.

Introducing Perflo

Perflo is the first tool that tackles the ‘project problem’ from a different angle. Instead of focusing on process-related data, it takes a people-oriented approach, providing real-time insights into proven metrics that affect project team performance.

These insights allow project team leads to identify potential blind spots and quickly make proactive decisions tackling issues as they arise, not after they happen. As a result, project teams stay aligned, engaged, and on track to project success.

If you’d like to learn more about how Perflo can help take your project teams to the next level, sign up for a demo today.

Bentzy Goldman
Bentzy Goldman